Angela Santoro always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Some of her favorite childhood memories were playing “school” with her three younger siblings and their cousins.
“I decided to pursue education because I wanted to teach children that learning can be fun and that they can do anything they set their minds to,” she says. “Once I took the first few education classes at St. Thomas Aquinas College, I knew that this was the right school and the right career for me.”
Angela’s wishes came true and four years after earning both her bachelor’s in education and her master’s in special education at STAC — she was one of the first students in the Dual Degree program — Angela is teaching at Jesse J. Kaplan School for Special Education in West Nyack. She works with children with autism and other cognitive and physical disabilities.
“The best part of my job is being able to help the students I work with and watch them succeed,” she says. “It is very rewarding to watch my students learn new communication, academic, and social skills and to reach accomplishments, no matter how big or small.”
A dedicated student, Angela completed many hours in the field and in the classroom, including student teaching in the South Orangetown School District, and field experiences at Laurel Plains and Cottage Lane elementary schools. She joined Jesse J. Kaplan School as a teacher’s assistant and after one year, was promoted to Special Education Teacher.
STAC Professor, Elizabeth Finnegan remembers Angela’s cheerful and kind personality and commitment to working with children with autism. “When I observed her in the classroom, she always showed patience and understanding,” she says. “In graduate school, she was always supportive of her fellow students and never hesitated to help them when she could. I don’t think I ever saw Angela without a smile on her face.”
Angela is grateful for the education she received at STAC and says the “small class sizes and great professors” are what stood out most about her college years. Her advice for today’s students on how to best prepare for life after college: “Stay connected with your college and your professors, start your job search, and attend job fairs.”
In addition to teaching, Angela has taken dance since she was three years old, and currently teaches ballet and tap part-time. She also likes crafting, bike riding, and visiting Ocean City, Maryland.
Her favorite quote, from an unknown source, is “Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.”